4 Great Reasons to Plant Something this Summer

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Plant for Better Health

These days, most of us are spending way too much time indoors, and a lot of that time is spent in front of a screen. This usually means we are sitting still and socially isolated. It’s bad for the eyes, body, as well as our social engagement system. Developing a healthy hobby that gets you outdoors, gets you moving, and helps encourage social interaction is one way to be more active. Gardening helps maintain a healthy weight, and does wonders for mental health. It’s calming, and it has been found to reduce stress, improve mood and support brain health as we age. Those who plant have improved nutrition as well, and tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Gardening can also be a way to engage with family and create some long-lasting traditions. Instead of buying Dad another neck-tie this Father’s Day, how about picking out a tree at your local garden center that you can plant together? Perhaps a fruit tree that will bear gifts for years to come.

Plant for Economic Value

Plant something around your home and you could increase your property value as much as 15 percent. To see some amazing transformations, check out these Curb Appeal Makeovers. And if you are thinking of selling your home, definitely check out Four Curb Appeal Projects to Max Out Your Home’s Value.

Even if you aren’t getting ready to sell immediately, many landscaping projects take time to plan, plant, install and mature. It’s an investment in your home like any other, one that will increase with time. To find an experienced and trusted landscaper in your area, you can use our directory of Local Landscapers and Garden Centers.

Plant for The Environment

Now more than ever, we need to be aware that we can impact our environment by making conscious choices in our gardens that support human health, native wildlife, and perhaps most critically, our pollinators.

Adding vegetation around your home can reduce storm runoff, remove carbon dioxide from the air, decrease pollutants from the air and soil, and preserve the natural environment for wildlife, birds, and valuable insects. We created a special campaign this year for the Maine Flower Show called Plant a Pollinator Garden! and will continue giving away our Mystery Seed Packets at the 2018 Maine Flower Show. In the meantime, you can plant your own pollinator garden as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.

Other ways to plant for the environment include growing your own veggies (organic and GMO free), using permaculture as part of your landscape design, and supporting the Wild Seed Project.

Visit our Resources page to connect with our partners and neighbors who share a commitment to planting, gardening, landscaping, wildlife, and horticulture. Have a specific question? Ask the UMaine Extension gardening experts!

Plant for Your Community

Gardening can also be a great way to engage with your community. Why not plant an extra row of veggies to donate to your local food bank? Perhaps you’d like to organize an annual seed swap with your neighbors, or plan a day to beautify your town with sidewalk or roadside plantings or even a community garden. Any of these activities will get you outdoors, providing a healthy dose of sunshine, soil, and social connection.

We are officially living in the “digital age,” where we can shop online and have all our needs delivered to our door. We can also communicate with almost all of our friends and family virtually through apps and socials networks. Sometimes these conveniences are wonderful, but often have their drawbacks as well. Sitting in front of a computer doesn’t replace our need to interact with people and our environment.

If you feel the need to re-connect with your community, planting something is a great way to do that. And if you’re looking for gardening advice, of course you can use Google, but it will never replace value of face-to-face contact with your local experts. When you shop at independent retailers, spending money close to home, those dollars go back into your community.

Take time this summer to enjoy the outdoors, burn a few calories weeding the garden, and connect with the natural world through the wonderful act of “planting something.”

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Lemon Queen Sunflowers - Helianthus annuus

Annual

 

Short Description

Beautiful butter yellow flowers blossom mid-summer to frost! Typically grow to more than 5 ft. tall. Expect 70 days to flower.

Growing Guidelines

  1. Around the last frost date, sow seeds directly into the soil.
  2. Plant seeds 1" deep and 6" apart.
  3. Water well after planting.
  4. Apply a 3"-4" layer of mulch to conserve water and keep down weeds.
  5. Thin seedlings to 1 ft. apart to allow 2 to 3 ft. between plants.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun. Sunflowers are drought-resistant, but they'll grow better if you water regularly from the time the flowers begin to develop until they're mature. Thriving in most soils, these flowers will become massive if given ample fertility, space and water. Harvest blossoms for continued flowering.

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Calendula Mix-Calendula officinalis

 

Short Description

Fruition has hand-selected this variety to have a brilliant diversity of colors with dozens of gorgeous, petals on each blossom.

Growing Guidelines

Direct sow (recommended)

  1. After the last frost, sow directly outside in the garden.
  2. Plant seed 24 to 36 inches apart in all directions.

Transplant method

  1. A cool-season plant, calendula can be started indoors in flats, under grow lights 6-8 weeks before the last frost for early season flowering.
  2. Seeds germinate in 5-15 days.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun to partial shade. Easy to grow and remarkably drought tolerant, calendula also thrives in containers and will readily naturalize when let go to seed.

Transplanting Tips

  1. Purchase a good seed starting soil like Espoma Organic seed starting mix or Coast of Maine.
  2. Use a small greenhouse tray(tray with a clear plastic dome) to germinate your seeds.
  3. When it's time to transplant into the garden, use a fertilizer like Espoma Flower-tone or Espoma Plant-tone.

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Purple Queen Anne's Lace

"Dara" Daucus carota

 

Short Description

Gorgeously laced 3-5" umbels in shades of burgundy, lilac, mauve & white on long, strong stems perfect for cutting, adored by pollinators. Related to our native carrot, Queen Anne's Lace.

Growing Guidelines

Direct sow (recommended)

  1. In early spring, after late frost, sow seeds directly in soil.
  2. Plant 1 seed 1/8" deep and 2" apart.
  3. Expect 2 weeks for germination.
  4. When seedlings are 2-3" tall, thin to 1 plant every 9-12".
  5. Support may be needed if fertility is high or if your garden is windy.

Transplant method

  1. Chill seed at 40 F 1-2 weeks prior to sowing 1/8" deep, 2 seeds per cell 4-5 weeks before planting out.
  2. Expect germination in 1-2 weeks.
  3. When first leaves appear, transplant into larger containers.
  4. Harden off & transplant with 9-12" between plants after last frost.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun. Expect 65-75 days to maturity. Dara has an exceptionally long vase life; harvest when 80% of an umbel's flowers are open & no pollen has shed. Enjoy 7-15 heads per plant on swaying 35-50" stalks.

Transplanting Tips

  1. Purchase a good seed starting soil like Espoma Organic seed starting mix or Coast of Maine.
  2. Use a small greenhouse tray(tray with a clear plastic dome) to germinate your seeds.
  3. When it's time to transplant into the garden, use a fertilizer like Espoma Flower-tone or Espoma Plant-tone.
Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Marigolds

Annual

Care and Feeding

Transplant Only: Sow 4 weeks before last frost shallowly, 2 seeds per cell and thin to 1, keeping soil surface moist until emergence. Transplant to larger containers when true leaves appear. Harden off and transplant outside when the danger of frost has passed with 12" between plants. Deadhead for blossoms all season.

  • Sowing Date: Indoors before last frost
  • Seed Depth: 1/4 inch
  • Days to Germination: 4-7 days at 75-80°F
  • Days to Maturity: 60
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 12 inches
  • Height: 12 inches

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Organic Mexican Sunflower (Torch Tithonia)

Annual

Care and Feeding
Direct Seed (recommended): After final frost, sow every 8" and thin to one every ~2'. Light required to germ, so barely cover seed. Full sun is best. Any (even poor) soil is suitable. Harvest flowers when 90% open for bouquets.

Transplant: Sow indoors 2-3 weeks before last frost, transplanting after frost with spacing below.
 
  • Sowing Date: After frost; Late May- early June
  • Seed Depth: 1/2 inch
  • Days to Germination: 7-14 days
  • Days to Maturity: 85
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 2 feet
  • Height: 5-7 feet

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Cosmos

Annual

Care and Feeding

Direct Seed (recommended): After last frost, shallowly sow 4 seeds/foot & thin to 1/foot when first true leaves appear. Wider spacing = thicker stronger stems.

Bouquets: harvest when petals first open. Deadhead for blooms all season.

Transplant: Shallowly sow 4 weeks before transplanting after last frost at below spacing. Transplant your cosmos for earlier blooms and more full-size plants per pack; direct sow for blooms throughout the season and simplicity of sowing.

  • Sowing Date: After frost, late May to early June 
  • Seed Depth: 1/4 inch
  • Days to Germination: 7-10
  • Days to Maturity: 65-70
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 18-24 inches
  • Height: 3-4 feet

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.